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Intel Corp. said earlier this week that it had begun works on improving speed and features of Thunderbolt interconnection to PCI Express 3.0 levels. Intel does not disclose any actual details of implementations or set dates at this point.

"We are working on integrating PCI Express 3.0 support into a future version of Thunderbolt, but are not prepared to get into more detail at this time," said Dave Salvator, a spokesman for Intel.

Thunderbolt technology supports two low-latency communications protocols - PCI Express for data transfer and DisplayPort for displays. Thunderbolt technology works on data streams in both directions, at the same time, so users get the benefit of full bandwidth in both directions, over a single cable. With the two independent channels, a full 10Gb/s of bandwidth can be provided for the first device in the chain of the devices. Intel's Thunderbolt controllers interconnect a PC and other devices, transmitting and receiving packetized traffic for both PCIe and DisplayPort protocols and thus makers need to develop or use additional controllers to make their products compatible with the TB I/O interface.

Essentially, Thunderbolt today is PCIe 2.0 x4 via cable, which provides 10Gb/s (2.5Gb/s*4). With PCI Express 3.0 in similar configuration, it would provide up to 20Gb/s speed with some PCIe 3.0 specific capabilities.

What is unknown is whether Thunderbolt featuring PCIe 3.0 will continue to use copper wires, like the existing Thunderbolt technology, or will use more expensive optical cables. Last April Intel said that its next-generation external interconnection technology (PTB, or post-Thunderbolt) will be based on silicon photonics components with optical cables and will be able to transfer data with up to 50Gb/s speed over distances up to 100 meters.

Since PTB is supposed to emerge sometimes in 2015, it is likely to expect Thunderbolt/PCIe 3.0 to emerge sometimes in 2013 or 2014.

Tags: Intel, Semiconductor, USB, Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, HDMI

Discussion

Comments currently: 5
Discussion started: 03/10/12 07:05:30 AM
Latest comment: 03/13/12 02:07:48 AM
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1. 
I really do not want any new form of copper cable.

I would like the Light Peak was just released (with optical cable) and it became THE single standard.
1 0 [Posted by: tafreire  | Date: 03/10/12 07:05:30 AM]
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Hope you realize that optical cables have serious bending issues that would make them very difficult to use in the many situations USB is used for...
1 0 [Posted by: daneren2005  | Date: 03/12/12 03:35:48 PM]
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2. 
But why?? USB 3.0 is perfect for now...And this Thunderbolt is almost 3x times more expensive....
1 0 [Posted by: TAViX  | Date: 03/12/12 07:47:50 AM]
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- collapse thread

 
Light Peak (Thunderbolt) runs off the PCIe lanes. Technically speaking, that gives you the potential of 50-100x faster speeds than USB 3.0 down the line. Think about having 1 standard for plug and play devices. Over time with mass production and wider availability, prices will come down. Transfer speeds are unbeatable!

This might allow add-on GPUs for laptops.
0 0 [Posted by: BestJinjo  | Date: 03/12/12 06:00:41 PM]
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3. 
None of this matters if 3rd party companies aren't going to jump onboard, esp if many 3rd party companies arent' going to find a use for it and support something that cost more then USB. USB is here to stay for a long time. There are millions and millions of devices that support USB and that's what matters to 3rd party companies and many consumors. I mean USB is backwards compatable for one which means the newest gen can support even the oldest gen USB devices and that's saying a lot about USB's compatability. Thunderbolt can't say the same and that's the biggest factor that many consumors look for is compatability with their devices and not so much how fast it is. USB will be the standard for many years to come. If there is one thing close to a future proof product that you can count on for many years it's USB as it has shown that for many years now.
1 0 [Posted by: SteelCity1981  | Date: 03/13/12 02:07:48 AM]
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